With no financial support coming from the Canadian Freestyle Ski Association this year, Simon d'Artois is hoping his hometown can help him stay on the path to his Olympic dream this winter.
The Whistler native and national halfpipe ski team member will need to pay his own way through the 2013-14 season. The CFSA is continuing to fund "A Group" athletes for the upcoming winter, but "B Group" skiers like d'Artois are on their own. That means the 21-year-old is feeling the financial pressure to get to training camps and competitions that will act as qualifiers towards the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, this season. On top of travel costs, the fees for lift tickets, contest entries and other expenses can pile up quickly.
"It's kind of a bummer because it puts us in a tough position," said d'Artois. "Everything is out of our pocket."
With the price of training camps reaching as much as $8,000 alone, d'Artois has missed out on some key team trips, including one this offseason to New Zealand. The cost of competing and training would be even more prohibitive if the team didn't use Whistler as its main base.
"I've been lucky that I've been able to stay at my house and not have to pay for accommodations and stuff like that," said d'Artois.
Crowdfunding online has become a common way for many Olympic hopefuls to attract financial aid. But d'Artois is taking an old-school approach by canvassing local businesses for small amounts, which he hopes will total up to his funding goal of more than $12,000 for the year.
"I'm asking for $200 from each business ... I try to make it really specific and not too big of a number," he said. "It might be a little bit more work, but I'm just trying to get myself known by the community. Going door-to-door gives me a chance to get to know everybody, and for people to get to know me and what they're supporting."
The grassroots approach is one that was recommended to him by Stacy Kohut, who won several medals for Canada in Paralympic sit-ski competition during the 1990s. Kohut and d'Artois, who work together, started discussing the idea of looking for support locally first.
"He's been a big help in terms of getting my fundraising going and helping me get on the right track," said d'Artois.
Kohut said he has a soft spot for athletes "on the fringe" and wanted to share with d'Artois some ideas that helped him attract funding help during his competitive skiing days.
"I was there once as a Paralympian — always on the fringe, always knocking on the door and trying to find ways to get my name out there more," said Kohut.
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